A military contractor known as “Fat Leonard,” who cut off his ankle bracelet and went on the run after pleading guilty to a major US Navy corruption scandal, has been arrested in Venezuela, authorities said Wednesday.
Leonard Glenn Francis, who was under house arrest in San Diego and weeks before his sentencing, removed his GPS tracker on Sept. 4, according to US Marshals Service. Francis pleaded guilty in 2015 to bribing Navy officials in a $35 million scandal, marshals said.
Francis was captured by Venezuelan authorities, who were tipped off by Interpol that he was on the run while trying to board a plane to another foreign country, a US Marshals spokesman said.
He will remain in Venezuelan custody while US marshals and other federal authorities work out the details of his extradition to the US
Francis was arrested in 2013. He pleaded guilty to offering $500,000 in bribes to naval officers, who in exchange shared classified information with him and diverted military vessels to ports that would be useful for his Singapore-based ship servicing company.
Prosecutors say Francis and his firm billed the U.S. military more than $35 million.
The former military contractor has been under house arrest since at least 2018.
Before his disappearance, US Pretrial Services, the federal agency charged with overseeing his house arrest, received an alert that his GPS ankle monitor was being changed. Pretrial Services then notified the U.S. Marshals Service of the GPS alert, according to the agency.
Members of the San Diego Fugitive Task Force went to Francis’ residence and after making the announcement entered his home through an unlocked door, the marshal’s office said. Officers were unable to locate Francis, but found his GPS ankle monitor that had been cut off, marshals said.
Francis’ neighbors told U.S. marshals that several U-Haul trucks had been in and out of the home all week, said Omar Castillo, deputy U.S. marshal in charge, San Diego Union Tribune registered.
Francis appeared to have been planning his escape for some time, Castillo said.